Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs

Champa House, Denver Rescue Mission

  • Internship Location: Denver, Colorado
  • Organization Type: nonprofit
  • Policy Area: nonprofit management
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: nonprofit management

This summer, I have interned at Champa House of Denver Rescue Mission as a childcare intern for 11 weeks. Denver Rescue Mission is a Christian faith-based nonprofit organization that helps needy people be self-sufficient and productive in Christ’s name. Champa House is a transitional housing for single mothers. To graduate, these participants need to go through five phases by taking life skills classes, finding jobs or going to college, doing chores, and obeying policies. Mothers who are in phase 1 & 2 and have children 5 weeks to 5 years old need to put their children in onsite childcare, where I am interning. Since it is summer, there are also kids older than 5 years old at the childcare center. In the past 11 weeks, I planned and taught diverse classes on relationships, science, nutrition, craft, and baking to six children. I also organized special events and field trips for kids. In addition, through my interaction with single mothers who live in Champa House, I started to see at them from a different perspective and communicate with them in a more respectful and encouraging way. Furthermore, I gained firsthand information of how the program functions and how this Christian nonprofit organization runs by observing, participating in intern activities, talking with other members, and attending staff meetings. In the internship, I experienced how many theories I learned from my classes on nonprofit leadership, public management, and public policy process can be applied in the real world.

City of Madison, Wisconsin, Parks Division

The Parks Division is within the City of Madison Department of Public Works. The division's annual operating budget is one-tenth the City's, around $18 million. The Parks Division's mission is to provide an ideal system of parks, natural resources, and recreational opportunities that enhances the quality of life for everyone.

As a Financial Manager II intern, I worked with section heads to coordinate, facilitate, and review their budgets. My responsibilities included calculating salaries and benefits, projecting gas, electric, and water costs, and estimating other costs at reasonable accounting units. I helped develop the largest supplemental funding request to support Forestry to combat Emerald Ash Borer. I helped develop infrastructure to automate many of the calculations and legislatively required documents to ensure repeatability of work.

Aside from the financial aspect, I assisted the superintendent in responding to constituent requests and queries from alders, and explaining policy choices related to pay increases, position, and structural changes. Due to my "confidential" salary schedule, I had an uncensored view of labor relations issues, alder issues, inter-agency issues, etc.

As a graduate student pursuing a Master of International Public Affairs, a master of urban and regional planning, and a transportation management and policy certificate who aspires to work in municipal corporate level government, I was provided an experience I could only wish for. I saw mayoral press conferences, attended confidential meetings, and internalized the immeasurable processes and regulations unique to municipal corporations. I was given an experience to bear witness to the inner-workings of the creature we call the City. I look forward to continuing my internship for this upcoming full academic year.


Domestic Violence Unit, Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office

I worked with the Domestic Violence Unit for the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office in spring 2014 as a policy analyst. By analyzing domestic violence misdemeanor statistics in Milwaukee County for 1993-2013, I developed benchmarks to evaluate the unit’s initiatives and estimated the correlation between the disposal and conviction rate. From the analysis, I discovered that the 2004 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Crawford vs. Washington is having a significant impact on the domestic violence conviction rate in Milwaukee County. I then employed a serious of advanced statistical analysis (T-tests, regression analysis, etc.) to examine the influence that Crawford case had on the domestic violence conviction rate. I hypothesized that the Crawford vs. Washington decision had reduced the conviction rate, and the statistical test verified my hypothesis. Overall, the ruling increases the difficulty of prosecuting people who commit domestic violence, therefore most likely worsening domestic violence in Milwaukee County.

ENS Global Escuela de Negocios Sociales

  • Internship Location: Valparaiso, Chile
  • Organization Type: International non-governmental organization, university
  • Policy Area: Fire safety regulations
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: Quantitative data collection/analysis, qualitative data collection/analysis

I worked as research assistant for a public policy and economics professor for the ENS Global Escuela de Negocios Sociales in Chile. His field of interest is the effectiveness of fire and safety regulations in cities of Chile, including the seaport of Valparaiso where I worked. My responsibilities included analyzing the population density growth of Valparaiso since 1830 creating a timeline from census data and historical cartography. I also recorded all regulations regarding structural fire safety that have been passed since 1850 and generated a digital database of fire incidents in Valparaiso. I did quantitative data collection from information available at the Valparaiso Fire Department and the national censuses since 1851. These data will be available for the fire stations and can be used to elaborate emergency plans, analyze the incidence of these emergencies, and improve their work. In addition, I worked with the Secretaria de Vivienda y Urbanismo, the department of housing and urban planning. This institution provided qualitative data about the urban planning procedures and state regulations to authorize building constructions based on fire safety regulations. The final result of this internship is to co-author the research paper that shows the results of this study.

Equal Education

  • Internship Location: Cape Town, South Africa
  • Organization Type: nonprofit
  • Policy Area: education
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: policy analysis, qualitative data collection/analysis, quantitative data collection/analysis

My employer was a small nonprofit called Equal Education, a self-described movement of learners, parents, teachers, and community members fighting for quality education in South Africa. The communities where Equal Education works are overwhelmingly impoverished and underrepresented. Their main office, in which I worked, is in the township of Khayelitsha, an extremely dense collection of ramshackle huts made out of scrap metal and refuse, located just outside of central Cape Town, housing more than 1 million South Africans.

My role at Equal Education was as an intern in the Policy Communication and Research department. The department’s purpose is to research those issues delegated to us by the community, create informative policy briefs, work with government officials, and to break down complicated policy issues so that the broader community might better understand them. The department brought me on in June to craft a 70-page policy report regarding textbook procurement and delivery in South Africa. Prepared for the South African Department of Basic Education, the report includes an analysis of current problems regarding student access to learning materials and offers policy alternatives for the national government to consider. This report was in response to the 2011 textbook crisis that occurred in the Limpopo province when it was found that entire truckloads of textbooks had been dumped into ditches, while massive numbers of students went without proper learning materials.

Four Lakes Wildlife Center: Public Relations Internship

The majority of my internship consisted of helping plan and host fundraising events at the Four Lakes Wildlife Center in Madison. During the spring FLWC has three annual fundraisers, the Garage Sale, the Easter Egg Hunt, and the Wildlife Baby Shower. While I spent many hours helping with fundraisers, my main endeavor was to create an outline and plan for the initiation of a fundraising cookbook. I chose to broach the idea of a cookbook fundraiser because nothing like it had been done in the past for the Wildlife Center or for the Dane County Humane Society. A cookbook fundraiser would be a good way to raise funds because beyond the initial time needed to create the book, reordering would take minimal labor. In addition, FLWC would only need volunteers to sell the books.

Goodman Community Center

  • Location: Madison, Wisconsin
  • Organization Type: Non-profit
  • Policy Area: Non-profit fundraising and management
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: Non-profit management

I interned for the Goodman Community Center in Madison, Wisconsin. Goodman is a nonprofit organization that provides programming on Madison’s east side to individuals ages 3 and older. My internship focused on fundraising and development.

I explored multiple areas of nonprofit fundraising and development, including major donors, corporate giving, community giving, and grants and foundations. My work was varied throughout the summer and included organizing donor engagement events; soliciting donations from businesses; cultivating and researching major donors; tracking donations in Raiser’s Edge; and researching foundation priority areas and potential grants.

This opportunity with the Goodman Community Center provided an ideal way to learn about and tackle all areas of fundraising and development.

Hamilton Consulting Group

The Hamilton Consulting Group is a government relations firm based in Madison, Wisconsin, that provides political counsel, strategic planning, legislative and regulatory advocacy, grassroots support, and information services toprivate and non-profit clients.

As a legislative affairs intern at Hamilton, I research and communicate proposed policy, track legislation, build coalitions, and support general office management. I primarily assist Hamilton with energy and environmental policy research by synthesizing information about proposed and alternative legislative and regulatory actions at the state and federal levels. I also help evaluate policy implications for clients. I worked on legislative and regulatory issues relating to existing and new power plant emissions standards, distributed generation, electric retail competition, and transmission siting reform. I also assisted Hamilton in setting up a customized contact, client, and legislative tracking system to provide internal government relations specialists with up-to-date client information. Finally, I provide logistical support for legislative visit days by coordinating meetings between clients and their legislators.

As a La Follette student pursuing a MPA with a focus on energy policy and analysis, this internship has provided me with excellent experience in Wisconsin’s energy and environmental policy-making process. I look forward to continuing my internship into the summer of 2014.

John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

  • Internship Location: Chicago, Illinois
  • Organization Type: nonprofit
  • Policy Area: The MacArthur Foundation has a myriad of programs, but my internship focused on immigration policy, income and wealth inequality, housing policy, and civic media and democracy.
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: qualitative data collection/analysis

Most of what I knew about the MacArthur Foundation before my internship was summed up in two parts — their support for public media and the MacArthur Fellows Program (also known as “Genius” Grants). But over my summer as an intern with the Policy Research team, I learned so much more about the MacArthur Foundation, philanthropy, and private foundations in general. I learned that MacArthur is one of the few private foundations that support research that informs policy decisions. In addition, I learned about the process of granting money to non-profit organizations that serve the public interest.

During my internship, I worked on civic media and democracy, immigration, housing rights, income inequality and demographic differences in wealth. Most of my time was spent researching the current political conversation surrounding these topics and writing policy briefs on the actions that other entities were taking in relation to them. I also worked with the Justice Program to report on a judicial conference on juvenile justice. Throughout my internship at the MacArthur Foundation, I attended many staff meetings, special events, and intern-specific briefing on topics unique to the foundation and its operations. I learned how the foundation operates, additional information on its many programs and overseas offices, and more about its overarching goals and ideals. I worked around so many accomplished people who are also extremely friendly, down-to-earth, and passionate about their work and making a difference.

National Rural Support Programme

  • Internship Location: Islamabad, Pakistan
  • Organization Type: international non-governmental organization
  • Policy Area: health, education, poverty alleviation
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: policy analysis, quantitative data collection/analysis, qualitative data collection/analysis, program evaluation

This summer, I worked as a monitoring, evaluation, and research intern for the National Rural Support Programme in Islamabad, Pakistan. The National Rural Support Programme is the largest capacity development and learning facility in the not-for-profit sector in Pakistan. It aims to reduce poverty and empower the rural and urban populations through the provision of resources and services to the poor, especially women. This goal is being achieved through an integrated approach that includes building institutions of the poor and then providing them with micro-credit loans, grants for small-scale infrastructure projects, training and skill development, and social sector interventions. It works in collaboration with most United Nations agencies, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, as well as provincial and local governments.

As an monitoring, evaluation and research intern, I designed and conducted eight studies in various parts of Pakistan on the following topics:

  1. Livelihoods Enhancement and Protection
  2. Microfinance and Enterprise Development
  3. Youth Economic Empowerment Project
  4. Early Childhood Care and Development
  5. Water, Environment and Sanitation Program
  6. E-Village program
  7. Small House-Cum Garden Project
  8. Protective Learning and Community Emergency Services

I designed data collection tools, conducted site visits, collected and analyzed field data, and prepared final reports for the annual progress report. The data and information I collected will assist National Rural Support Programme staff in developing best practices for achieving optimal results. Additionally, I conducted research on the agency’s geographic areas of work, generated and edited reports and memos to make quantitative and qualitative data easily understandable to general audiences, and assisted with data management, cleaning of data, and quality control.

Policy Matters Ohio

  • Internship Location: Cleveland, Ohio
  • Organization Type: Non-profit
  • Policy Area: Policy Matters Ohio does policy research on energy, poverty, labor unions, and a number of other topics. My specific project for the summer would be in the policy area of education.
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: Qualitative data collection/analysis

Policy Matters Ohio is a non-profit research institute based in Cleveland, Ohio. Before my summer internship began, I worked with the executive director, a La Follette alum, to find a project relevant to my background and skills in neuroscience and public policy. We decided to collaborate with the Ohio Children’s Defense Fund to develop a publication for school personnel to learn about the impacts of chronic stress on child development and about information resources they can draw on to help trauma-affected students succeed in school. I spent the majority of the summer researching trauma-informed care practices in schools across the nation, interviewing Ohioans about local care practices, and writing up a policy brief on trauma-informed care in schools that will be published this fall.

Policy Matters Ohio employees and interns are encouraged to attend policy relevant events. Among others, I attended a meeting on child behavioral health held by the Public Children Services Association of Ohio, a Policy Matters Ohio board meeting, and a Friday Forum at The City Club of Cleveland. These events informed my work and gave me a more well-rounded understanding of the diverse policy work in which Policy Matters Ohio is involved.

The best parts of this internship were the impromptu discussions, debates, and lessons on current events, history, policy, politics, and, occasionally, life itself, that often arose in the office common space amongst interns and staff. As a result, I’ve reconsidered my views on several policy issues and now know the meaning of “granfalloon.”

U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance

  • Internship Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Organization Type: federal government
  • Policy Area: environment, energy, transportation
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: policy analysis, quantitative data collection/analysis, qualitative data collection/analysis, energy analysis, economic analysis

I worked in the Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance (OEPC) in the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) in Washington, D.C. OEPC oversees DOI's environmental and sustainability efforts, including responses to spills of hazardous substances. OEPC is currently focusing on DOI’s crude oil spill response preparedness due to the recent U.S. crude oil boom and the significant increase in the use of railroad tank cars to transport crude oil, known as “crude-by-rail.” The growth of crude-by-rail poses new risks to DOI’s land, cultural, and historical resources. I researched U.S. crude oil production and transportation trends and used geographic information system (GIS) software to prepare a crude-by-rail risk assessment. My risk assessment identifies DOI land resources that are located within, near, or downstream from potential crude-by-rail routes. The risk assessment includes an economic analysis of crude-by-rail in order to explain current crude oil transport trends and make educated projections about future trends. I used my crude-by-rail research to help OEPC develop five crude oil spill exercise scenarios. I identified high crude oil spill risk areas and used GIS software to identify at-risk DOI land resources in the scenarios. OEPC and I presented the scenarios to several federal agencies to garner support to potentially execute one of the scenarios as part of a semi-annual federal exercise cycle. I also used my crude-by-rail research to contribute to OEPC comments on a White House policy analysis of a proposed U.S. Department of Transportation crude-by-rail rulemaking.

U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control, Office of Program Policy and Implementation, Licensing Division

  • Internship Location: Washington, DC
  • Organization Type: Federal government
  • Policy Area: Finance / Foreign Policy / National Security
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: Qualitative data collection/analysis, regulatory analysis, intergovernmental relations

Interning at Treasury Department headquarters in Washington, D.C., I am employed by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). OFAC implements more than 25 financial sanctions programs established through executive order or legislation.

Working in the Licensing Division of OFAC’s Office of Program Policy and Implementation, I evaluate applications submitted by individuals and entities who request the release of blocked transactions or seek prior approval for activities that might otherwise be prohibited. Licensing work requires coordination with OFAC’s Compliance and Targeting sections, as well as direct communication with external stakeholders such as applicants, their legal counsel, and financial institution representatives.

As a licensing officer intern, I am assigned Cuba and Ukraine cases. I review each application and its associated documentation; pinpoint the key elements of the request; and research, identify, and apply applicable sanctions regulations. After making a determination regarding the application, I draft the denial letter or approved license that will be sent to the applicant after supervisory review and signature.  I’ve analyzed a full range of cases from a blocked $80 Paypal transaction to an export license request valued at more than $19 million. 

OFAC staff and supervisors (even the a ssistant director for licensing and associate director for the Office of Program Policy and Implementation) view interns as full team members.  I’ve participated in all team and division meetings, listened to teleconferences involving complex licensing cases, and joined the group that met with the State Department’s newly selected chief of mission for the U.S. Interests Section in Havana prior to his departure for the post.

U.S. Government Accountability Office

  • Internship Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Organization Type: federal government
  • Policy Area: transportation
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: policy analysis, qualitative data collection/analysis, program evaluation

This summer I worked at the Government Accountability Office, the audit, evaluation, and investigation arm of the U.S. Congress. Assigned to the Physical Infrastructure team, which works primarily on transportation, property, and telecom issues, I participated on two projects on aviation and airport funding. First, I helped write, fact-check, and develop a testimony for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. My primary role for this testimony statement was to prepare the GAO witness, and compile questions and answers that members could ask during the hearing. I then organized briefing sessions and prepared the witness by going over the finished draft statement and alleviating any questions and concerns.

My second project was a report that examined the efficiency and method for collecting the Passenger Facility Charge, a user fee added to airline tickets to pay for airports’ infrastructure such as terminals, runways, and safety projects. I designed a research objective and collected the necessary data through many interviews with government officials, lobbyists and trade organizations, and other industry stakeholders. I also participated in the drafting process, then I wrote and edited my specific section, which will be published when the full product is released in November. Throughout this entire process I ensured my work conformed to government auditing standards, and all members of the engagement team treated me as a full analyst.

Wisconsin Department of Administration, Division of Enterprise Technology

  • Internship Location: Madison, Wisconsin
  • Organization Type: state government
  • Policy Area: information technology
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: policy analysis, qualitative data collection/analysis, budgeting and finance

I worked as a Budget and Financial Analyst Intern at the Wisconsin Department of Administration—Division of Enterprise Technology. The division provides information technology services for Wisconsin state agencies, local governments, and educational systems, including schools and libraries. The goal of the division is to improve service delivery and government efficiency. The Division of Enterprise Technology operates primarily under program revenue appropriations, which means that program expenditures are recovered through revenues collected from service rates charged to customers. A significant amount of my work and learning related to financial reporting, so I learned a lot about how Wisconsin state government reports financials, as well as why it is important to keep accurate financial records. Financial reporting allows the division to review rates, which helps to ensure that rates are fair and that programs do not significantly over- or under-recover. I worked with drafting and editing state budget papers. Budget papers and requests are often a mechanism for changing policies within an agency, because a lot of state agency policies are based on statutory requirements. One striking thing I noticed about DET is how well everyone works together. A lot of everyone's work involves talking with colleagues or drafting proposals with colleagues, and everyone worked together very cooperatively.

Wisconsin Department of Administration, Division of Housing

  • Internship Location: Madison, Wisconsin
  • Organization Type: state government
  • Policy Area: housing
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: analytics, budgeting, communications, and policy analysis

I worked to improve low income housing services and homelessness prevention programs throughout Wisconsin. While interning at the Wisconsin Department of Administration, Division of Housing, I managed and provided technical assistance, information, oversight, and robust monitoring relating to the federal Emergency Solutions Grant, state Homeless Prevention Program, and state Transitional Housing Program. This work included compiling statewide data on homeless people to decipher trends to inform policy initiatives for the upcoming year, state contracting with local nongovernmental organizations, and technical support and compliance services. The position offered a great opportunity to apply the skills learned at La Follette in a variety of ways. These skills include analytics, budgeting, communications, and policy analysis. The combination of macro-level work with government officials and community leaders with micro-level tangible impacts with the homeless population was extremely rewarding. It provided great daily balance and variety to the position. Learning the process of how data influence decisions, how decisions fund organizations, and how these organizations find housing to get people off the street has been enlightening. Chronically homeless people are the definition of a vulnerable population, thus any services that reduce recidivism will strengthen communities throughout Wisconsin. Working at an office with a mission to get people off the streets and into affordable housing was incredibly rewarding and a great link between tangible skills and a social passion.

City of Madison Parks Division

  • Internship Location: Madison, Wisconsin
  • Organization Type: local government
  • Policy Area: public budgeting and finance
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: budgeting and finance, quantitative data collection and analysis, and policy analysis

I spent the summer and fall semester working in City Hall as a Financial Management Intern at the City of Madison Parks Division. In this role I have performed meaningful research and analytical assignments under the direction of the Parks Superintendent. This position has provided a rich experience that has served as a substantive supplement to my La Follette education and will prove valuable throughout my entire career in public service.

The majority of my time throughout this internship was devoted to the development of the parks $15 million operating and $12 million capital budgets. This process involved several major steps, including learning the structure of the division, meeting with division managers and supervisors, establishing division goals for next year, analyzing areas for division improvement, and ultimately creating the final documents for submission to the City of Madison Mayor and Common Council.

I also performed public policy assignments that included drafting and presenting a policy analysis of a proposed park service expansion; drafting memoranda in response to information requests from the Mayor and other City of Madison agencies, the media, and general public; developing accounting policies and analytics; writing legislation proposal; and negotiating and drafting contractual agreements with numerous parks user groups.

It is exciting to work in a City of Madison agency. Priorities and tasks can change rapidly on a day -to-day basis, which makes for interesting and exciting work. I would recommend this internship to anyone who is considering a career in public finance and/or local government.

Working Capital for Community Needs

  • Internship Location: Madison, Wisconsin
  • Organization Type: non-profit
  • Policy Area: development
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: non-profit management

As an intern with Working Capital for Community Needs (WCCN), I helped with fundraising and development projects. I prepared promotional content for use online and for distribution. I learned firsthand about methods of attracting and retaining donors, including maintaining an informative and compelling website, establishing a strong online presence and reaching out to groups/organizations with similar interests. I completed an in-depth analysis of different online fundraising platforms to help the organization determine which would be the best fit for its needs. I also created an interactive timeline of the organization’s 30-year history that will be utilized on the website. Every week, I researched and evaluated potential grant opportunities for the organization using the funding database GrantStation. Other minor activities included going over resources relevant to the nonprofit field, such as nonprofit career websites, professional organizations, and news sources. I had already been using these sources to look into future career opportunities. I also gained firsthand experience writing fundraising letters/e-mail and engaging supporters as part of a fundraising campaign when WCCN participated in GlobalGiving’s open challenge. Working as an intern with WCCN helped give me insight into and knowledge about nonprofit development work that will certainly be beneficial to me as I look into careers in the nonprofit sector. Some of the important take-away points for me were the value of relationship building or networking in a development strategy; how to effectively write a fundraising letter/email, including story-telling principles; and background knowledge into how microfinance works.